Top 10 things to do in Athens
With the shoulder season upon us, it’s the perfect time for a quick city break – and where better than the culture cradle of the Greek capital? Here’s our top 10 things to do in Athens.Walk Dionysiou Areopagitou : The centre of Athens can be gridlocked at times, but take a turn off Amalias Avenue to follow in the footsteps of the ancients. Dionysiou Areopagitou is a wide, pedestrianised street named after the first Athenian convert to Christianity. As the road continues, the rumble of traffic fades into the distance, buildings give way to trees and some of the city’s key archeological sites reveal themselves. First up, the Theatre of Dionysus followed by the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and, finally, the jaw-dropping Parthenon.
Athens is. During digs at the end of the 20th century, ancient sites were revealed that threatened the system’s viability until a compromise was found to show off the archeological finds underground. Now displayed around the station, they are joined by two modern works of art, the station clock Thodoros and artist George Zoggolopoulos’s Atrium ceiling installation.
Panathenaic Stadium (Kallimarmaro) : Zappas (see above) was the father of the modern Olympics, starting games in the years before the International Olympic Committee was formed. When the first ‘official’ games were held in 1896, most events took place at this magnificent marble stadium, which still hosts the finish of the annual Athens Marathon and other events.
Lycabettus Hill is central Athens’ highest point. Shrouded in pine trees at its base, it gives way to a rocky summit with two peaks with the 19th century Chapel of St George, a theatre, and a restaurant. One can walk to the top or take the funicular railway to save on shoe leather. Kolonaki, the area around the lower station, is Athens’ high-class neighbourhood with a host of posh boutiques and some great people watching.
Acropolis have been gentrified over the last decade and are now packed with hip bars and restaurants. Life in Psiri centres around Plateia Iroon (Heroes Square), while at the heart of Gazi lies the old Athens Gasworks, now home to Technopolis, an industrial museum and cultural venue.
Temple of Poseidon on the Sounion promontory, the ruins of which have Lord Byron’s name engraved on them. Legend says this is the spot where King Aegeus committed suicide when he thought his son Theseus had been slain by the Minotaur of Crete, leading to it having the most magnificent sunsets.
By James Ellis